Food waste in my view is threefold. The food itself is wasteful if not consumed, but equally if you consume too much the waste sits on your own waist which is not too good for your health. The third issue being the packaging it comes in. This is especially wasteful if it can’t be recycled or it ends up polluting the planet!
The waste in our household of 6 generally doesn’t come from the edible parts themselves as we don’t tend to over buy and we are good at using up leftovers. However, the constant battle is balancing the effort to minimise packaging alongside the choices we are able to make. Opting for convenience or shopping based on cheaper options plays a big part in many people’s lives and actually choices often have other implications too.
For example, we might save our carbon footprint by walking and shopping locally but it means other healthier more ethical options are unavailable to us. It may mean that we can save pennies on reduced products but they will come packaged in plastic. Currently we opt for organic, natural and palm oil free peanut butter but generally buy the larger tub to save pennies but this comes packaged in plastic. Good Hemp Milk & Almond Milk choices are dairy free but they are packaged in Tetra Pak. If we buy organic fruit & veg generally it will be packaged in plastic. If we don’t then it may be laden with pesticides. You see there is always a trade off choice.
Briefly here are some of things we do already to minimise our household packaging impact.
- We do not buy bottled water and use reusable stainless steel bottles instead for water on the run.
- We do not buy plastic bottles of cordial or squash and instead opt for water. Occasionally we will treat ourselves to a natural aspartame free cordial in a glass bottle.
- We try only to buy Olive Oil in glass bottles.
- We buy glass bottles/jars of tomato sauce, mayonnaise etc
- We buy bars of natural soap packaged in cardboard/paper over plastic bottles of shower gel or handgel
- My daughter and I use only reusable menstrual products so nothing ends up in landfill.
- We buy unpackaged fruit & veg as much as possible even if it means non-organic at times but am not very happy about this.
- We use Soap Nuts and Essential Oils for Laundry
- We buy Toilet Rolls with biodegradable packaging for at least half of the time (with 4 children we run out a lot so it’s not always possible!)
- We use reusable sandwich wraps and containers and do not buy clingfilm or foil.
- We say no to plastic straws and have stainless steel reusable straws instead.
And of course we don’t buy any deodorant with nasty ingredients packaged in plastic because we have plenty supply of our own Eco Friendly Deodorant.
I’d really like to do more but it’s going to take more planning and probably commitment to one change at a time.
Increasing the amount of cooking from scratch helps reduce packaging and is clearly better for you but it does require extra planning. Is there really time to make my own peanut butter or my own Hummus? Have I really got time to only use the Juicer and not purchase any cartons of fruit juice or smoothies? Can I really commit to only baking bread and those sweet treats rather than buying a packet of biscuits? Do we give up eating lentil chips and crisps? This is what it comes down to. How much commitment can one give when faced with so many other stresses and strains in life. How much pleasure do we give over in this one life that we lead? I guess it ultimately comes down to how passionate you feel about something and what plans you can put into place to make those changes happen.
In the meantime, I look to balance and trying to do what we can rather than nothing at all and I want to end this post remembering that the Earth Conscious lifestyle idea wasn’t designed to pretend to be perfect it was designed to encourage and empower greener, ethical and conscious choices whilst accepting that we have to keep it real and do what we can within our own personal constraints. It’s a journey and small steps are ok.